Kristen Wiig is one of the biggest breakout stars we have seen from Saturday Night Live in a long time. I didn’t always get her humor, except for the tiny baby arm sister. When I saw “Bridesmaids” I finally understood the appeal. In the last few years she has really come into her own as an actress, imbuing her characters with emotional depth and complexity. She is a master at transitioning between bathos and pathos, revealing the humor in tragic circumstances and taking the audience to the scary places you can go when things stop being funny. Her characters are flawed but loveable.
The movie that is widely considered to be the debut for Wiig’s serious acting skills is “Welcome to Me,” The story of a woman with bipolar disorder who wins the lottery. Idealizing Oprah Winfrey, she uses her winnings to create the strangest talk show ever. Some elements of the TV show are genius, like televising her fights on the telephone with her mother under a giant scoreboard that tallies which one the audience thinks is winning. It is an enthralling film and an interesting commentary on the benefits and problems with psychiatric meds. The ending is pretty cheesy, and in my opinion goes against the values of best friend Linda Cardellini’s character. In spite of the great casting, Joan Cusack and Jennifer Jason Leigh are woefully underutilized.
Although I highly recommend “Welcome to Me,” I preferred “The Skeleton Twins” co-starring Bill Hader, popular for his Stefon character on SNL, and lesser-known as one of the writers of South Park. Hader steals the show as Milo Dean, the witty and morbid gay brother of Maggie Dean, Kristen Wiig’s free spirit who is struggling to conform as an uptight housewife. Milo may be my favorite movie character in ages. After 10 years of estrangement, the brother and sister are thrown together by a crisis. Soon it becomes apparent that everyone is in crisis in their own way. It is kind of comforting to realize that everyone struggles. Everyone is fucked up. Life isn’t just hard for some people. Big shout-out to Luke Wilson for his role as the one normal person in this maelstrom of a family.
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